Upgrading a Rubies TOS Phaser 1+2

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Dan Efran

Active Member
Last year I bought the cheap Rubies TOS phaser, intending to upgrade and repaint it eventually. Today I felt like breaking something, so I decided to begin this project by prying open the toy.

Here's how it looked before I began:

unmodified rubies phaser.JPG
Not bad for the price, aside from the bizarre color scheme.

I'm not the first to try upgrading this toy, of course; I found this old thread by Vincent V pretty helpful:


In particular, he said "The fins and emitter proved a bit difficult as they were glued VERY firmly into place."

Sure enough. I got the emitter off with some vigorous twisting.

emitter off.JPG

But the fins were glued on really super tight. I tried prying them off but couldn't get any leverage.
Finally I opened up the phaser body (held together with a few screws, luckily not glued along the seams) and just pried it open, breaking the fins part.

broken fins.JPG

Not the ideal technique, but it's a pretty clean break and I'm sure I can work around it, one way or another. Once I had it in two pieces I could pry each one off the body separately. It was still really hard to get them off - I'm honestly glad I gave up on getting it off in one piece. Here are the glued surfaces - check out those ridges:

strong glue.JPG

Yeah, that wasn't going to come off without a fight.

Next I tried to get the side "knob" off. It's held on with two tabs inside...plus apparently plenty of glue. I mangled the tabs, then tried to pop the part out by pressing on them.

knob tabs.JPG

Didn't work! My tool slipped and I cut myself on...something. A corner of the body shell, I think.


Yay! It's not a prop project without a minor injury, right? :cool

I guess I'm done for tonight. I'll try again tomorrow.

Meanwhile here's a view of the interior:


[EDIT: I originally used Roman numerals for the phaser types in the title. Silly me.]
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Dan Efran

Active Member
Next day. Time for a rematch with that side knob.

side knob glue.JPG

Yeah, they really didn't want that coming off. Look at all that glue. It's around both tabs, too. Serious overkill. The emitter had just one little dab of the stuff, but this knob was attached!

Next was the P1's top "knobs". I was forewarned when Vincent V said he "broke off" these parts. They look as if they're barely hanging on by their tabs...

p1 knob tabs.JPG

...but no, they're drowning in glue:

p1 knob glue.JPG

Why?!? Also note the blue "shelf" under the part. That wasn't obvious at first, so I thought they might pop out in either direction, toward the interior or exterior. Nope, you have to mangle the tabs then push them outward from inside. Fine. (That's what tabs like that usually mean.)

p1 knobs broken loose.JPG

I might even keep (and paint) the knurled one. It's not bad-looking aside from the color. Of course the labelled one should be clear, so that's getting replaced.

Meanwhile, these other parts came out easily when I separated the body halves. No glue at all:

loose top parts.JPG

That graduated knob actually rotated, by the way. I might keep it.
This is really a pretty nice, toy, all things considered. Good attention to detail - they stuck a label on a conical part. I'm impressed.
(But the colors - what were they thinking??)

One detail I really appreciate: the soundboard is already positioned entirely within the P1, with the activation button in about the right place.

pew placement.JPG

It's like they were expecting people to separate the P1. I think I can actually keep the sounds working with both triggers. That makes me very happy.

Next step is cutting the P1 out of the P2. That'll be fun.... :popcorn

Dan Efran

Active Member
Halfway there.

first half P1 sep.JPG

This tiny razor-blade-size saw I learned about recently on the RPF was somewhat useful...
tiny saw.JPG

...but I did most of the cutting with my old favorite, a plastic scriber.
If you haven't used these: you drag it back towards you along the cut line you want. The point on the side (not the point on the far end!) cuts a small trench, like a tiny plow. You get a curl of plastic scrap and a nice smooth (though V-shaped) cut. Very handy for a job like this if you're careful with it (and essential for cutting most kinds of plastic sheet). Great little tool.

first half P1 away.JPG
That was "the easy side", but the other side will be harder only because the soundboard is nicely glued into it. I'd rather not disturb that, if I can work around it.

Browsing the references on the original prop, I'm amazed again at how complex the inner mechanisms were on the original hero phaser. It's kind of crazy how much work went into crafting all those extending emitters and whatnot. I'm trying to decide what I have space and patience to make this one do. Maybe not much?

Dan Efran

Active Member
...Then I cut my other index finger, in almost the same spot, but this time with that tiny saw. Guh.
Pro tip: when you're holding a part you're cutting, make sure your fingers behind the part aren't behind the cut line.
Usually I'm good about that, but I guess I forgot this time, and tools will wait for those moments to pounce.
Oh well, it wasn't bad, and I'll be more careful with that saw. It's pretty sharp!

Anyway, I got the P1 out.
P1 sep.JPG

I'm very pleased with that progress! It's officially a two-piece P1+P2 phaser set now, though both parts need lots more work.

It looks like there's plenty of empty space in the P1...but I still need to put the speaker back in, and fit it with some small batteries. Then we'll see how much room there really is for mechanisms. I'd really like to put in some of the hero P1's mechanical effects, but that might be too ambitious.

I think my next phase, though, has to be the P1's bottom shell. I have some ideas about that....

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Dan Efran

Active Member
So I was doing a little research, and...is it me, or is there something a little off about the control panel layout on this P1?

P1 top layout comparison.JPG

Yeah, I didn't want to do major surgery on the top of the P1. Building up the bottom will be hard enough.
But I guess I'll probably have to alter all those holes after all. They're just too far off. Sigh.
And what is that orange thing supposed to be?
(I think it's actually helping to hold the toy together! But I can make a replacement shim that fits in the same slots but doesn't protrude, and skin over it.)

Even if I can't get the clear sight working, I want to hinge the top flap. It looks like the easiest battery access route - I think I'll probably need to permanently attach the whole P1 bottom shell, since I want to build a working trigger into it. I'll probably glue up the whole P1 eventually, and paint it. So I want the top flap as a maintenance hatch.

This is turning into a bigger project than I had imagined.
It's only because the originals were so over-engineered. I don't even care that much about phasers, but all those springs and levers and things they put in the original make it a challenge. How far can i take this cheap plastic one?

Dan Efran

Active Member
Looks like my closest-match brass tube is about one size too big...
P1 tubing.JPG
...but I think that's a pretty subtle discrepancy, and I have a clear rod that fits very nicely in the tube.
I'll probably go with these for the P1 emitter, even though the size isn't exact.

Dan Efran

Active Member
I scratchbuilt the frame that goes on the front of the P1.

front frame.JPG

That was a lot of work! It's a smaller part than it looks like - only about an inch wide. Mine came out a little rough, but it should be good enough. (I might fill a few tiny gaps later.)

I actually built this about three times before I got one I was happy with. I plastic-welded strips of styrene together, slightly oversize, then sawed and sanded them flush. One corner at a time, one layer at a time. I used a piece of rectangular tubing to line up some of the right angles.

frame in progress 1.JPG frame in progress 2.JPG frame in progress 3.JPG

Then I cut out the middle of one side, to fit the curved part in. I could have just left that open but I figured I'd get better square corners if I made the box first, then opened up one side. Also I was able to cut the gap smaller on the outer band, to actually hold the curved part in place before I glued it in:
frame in progress 4.JPG
That's a bit hard to explain and was even harder to do. (I should have left the layers unglued in the middle there, to make it easier.) I had to gradually saw and scrape and sand away just the right amount of plastic to make the curved part fit snugly. Once it was glued in, I could sand away the excess "tabs" on the outer frame layer.

The curved section itself was made from more styrene strip, softened with a heat gun and bent around a tube.

frame in progress 5.JPG

The styrene has a tendency to puff up at the edges when you heat it, and stretch and twist awkwardly. I tried this a few times and got iffy results.
Finally I had to use a wider strip, so I could cut it down from both edges and use just the best part in the middle.

frame in progress 6.JPG

A bit of fine sanding and the part is pretty much done:

frame done.JPG

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